A.J. Pollock more than ready to join Diamondbacks lineup, Hale says

Aug 23, 2016, 5:00 PM | Updated: Aug 24, 2016, 11:30 am
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LISTEN: Chip Hale, D-backs' Manager

Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale believes A.J. Pollock is likely to receive a call-up on Friday. That would be more practical, in his eyes, than Wednesday or Thursday because it gives the outfielder Thursday off after he plays two final games in Triple-A Reno on Tuesday and Wednesday.

After that, it’s full bore ahead when he makes his 2016 MLB debut.

“When we activate him, he’ll be in the lineup for sure,” Hale told the media on Tuesday. “So if it’s Friday, he’ll be in there Friday.”

It shouldn’t be surprising that Arizona isn’t holding Pollock back. His production has wowed Reno manager Phil Nevin, who told Hale the outfielder might be even better than he was prior to his April elbow surgery. The numbers have shown as much.

In 10 games of a rehab assignment that has spanned rookie league to Triple-A ball, Pollock has a .433 batting average, .541 on-base percentage with just one strikeout to his name, not to mention two stolen bases.

“Pollock gets upset when people are surprised he’s playing,” Hale told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM earlier Tuesday.

That Pollock feels like his injury is no big deal means he’s over the mental hurdles, Hale said.

“I think that’s the key,” he added.

Asked why the D-backs would bring Pollock back during a lost season despite coming off a serious elbow injury, Hale said the team is certain there’s no more waiting to be done. Pollock, in a self-written story for ESPN, said scans proved as much.

“I guess you can ask the same question: Why not?” Hale told the media at Chase Field. “He’s healthy as can be. If we weren’t sure he’s 100-percent healthy, we wouldn’t bring him back. But it’s hard to be a baseball player or any athlete and miss a whole season of your sport. And he’s got plenty of games left to play.”

QUOTABLE

“They’re trying to mess with his timing a little bit and he needs to find a way, whether it’s getting his foot down earlier, whatever it takes. A lot of is just rhythm. It’s like dancing, his rhythm is off right now.” – Hale on Jake Lamb’s struggles of late

“He’s really learning, as we say, when a hitter has the breaks … you’re going to swing, swing, swing and then all of a sudden you know how to hold your swing up at the last second.” – Hale, to Burns and Gambo, on Yasmany Tomas’ developing ability to hold up on balls and draw walks

DE LA BULLPEN?

Starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa had a successful side session on Monday and the team will move forward building him up in rookie ball despite a setback to his elbow injury.

The right-hander had pain when throwing his changeup, specifically, and he’s currently only working with his fastball and slider. Nonetheless, doctors have cleared De La Rosa to continue throwing with the hope he can join the Diamondbacks by the end of the season.

Hale said Arizona hopes to eventually build De La Rosa up to 70 pitches with his full array of pitches. That would lead them to believe he can fight for a starting spot next season. But with the team not wanting to push him into aggravating the injury, there will be further discussion about whether De La Rosa might move to the bullpen for 2017.

“That’s really one of the back-and-forths that we’re having,” Hale said. “Yeah, that’s been discussed. The doctors have all said, if he feels good, we should be able to build him up.”

WHEN CAN MILLER RETURN?

The Diamondbacks have not determined when Shelby Miller is ready to return but ready he might be.

“He’ll be with us, he’ll be with us. He’s close to coming,” Hale told Burns and Gambo. “I can’t pin it down. His next start is Thursday.”

Whether it’ll be for Triple-A Reno or the D-backs remains to be seen. Hale said it’s more likely Miller could move into Arizona’s rotation next week because the MLB squad has two days off.

Miller was optioned to Triple-A on July 14 as his ERA reached 7.14.

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